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John G. Shedd Aquarium

It was December of 1923 when Chicago learned that it would be getting an aquarium. A rumor leaked that John G. Shedd was going to donate two million dollars for that purpose, and John was known as a pretty generous guy. He’d contributed six figures to the Young Men’s Christian Association, gave $50,000 to the …

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Adler Planetarium

Alder Planetarium 1933

Most cultural institutions begin because of lofty ideals. Someone wants to make the world a better place by enriching the experiences of others, usually through art, in all its forms; beauty; and understanding. By the mid-1920s, Chicago was already the beneficiary of several philanthropically-minded souls, and it had an art museum, an opera company, an …

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Civic Opera Building

Lyric Opera of Chicago is such an institution that it seems its existence has always been a given. But just like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Field Museum surmounted multiple difficulties in their early years, establishing a permanent opera company was no easy task. And since this was opera, its drama was on an …

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Carbide and Carbon Building (Pendry Hotel)

The Carbide and Carbon Building is unique in Chicago. Its green terra-cotta tower with shining black base and golden summit stands out in a skyline of muted shades of beige and gray and the occasional white. The legend goes that the Burnham brothers designed it to resemble a champagne bottle’s green glass topped with foil. …

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